When the father of gene-centred evolutionary biology, George C. Williams (1926-2010), asked the world's largest university press to publish a popular-level exposé of Darwin's wager, he was told the idea was far too radical to put in front of the reading public.
Because Darwin wagered in 1871 that humankind is born just another cannibalistic great ape, and that it falls on culture, not biology, to civilise us. Darwin's wager explains mathematically the enormous power of culture, yet that only by acknowledging this can societies become moral and just. Though many, including the United States, may well never get there.
Darwin's wager has been buried, suppressed, for a century and a half. Darwin couldn't get the idea out, and the giants of modern evolutionary biology couldn't get the idea out. So on this 150th anniversary the author will fight Darwin's final battle for him.
James B. Miles is an expert on the moral implications of evolutionary theory and has been published across philosophy, social science and natural science journals. He is based in London.